Equisetum scirpoides (Dwarf Scouring Rush)
|Also known as:||Dwarf Horsetail|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade; moist woods, peat bogs, shady, mossy wetlands|
|Plant height:||1 to 8 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FAC MW: FAC NCNE: FAC|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Leaves and stems:
Sterile stems are multiple from the base, evergreen, have no branches, and bend/coil/twist into a contorted tangle. The “leaves” are reduced to a sheath that surrounds the stem, with 3 black/brown teeth around the top that have distinct white edges and persist all season. There is a black band just above the base of the sheath.
Fertile stems are like the sterile stems but distinguished by the cone, less than ¼ inch long, at the tip of the stem. Cones have a sharp-pointed tip, mature in late summer or may over-winter and release spores the following spring.
Dwarf Scouring Rush spreads both by spores and rhizomes, typically seen as numerous clumps in close proximity to each other. There are other species of Equisetum in Minnesota that have no branches, but Equisetum scirpoides is not likely to be confused with them. The slender, curled/twisted stems are unique. Perhaps a more fitting common name is “Medusa's head”.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Falls Creek SNA, Washington County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Roseau and Washington counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?